Hypocrites in the Church
Conversations from the “Pit” (a little place where I work)
GOD CONDEMNS HYPOCRISY
The word hypocrite comes from the Greek word hypocrites which means pretender or dissembler. It was originally used of Greek actors who uttered their lines behind masks. The word hypocrite was used to portray someone who was pretending to be someone else. A hypocrite is an actor, a person who pretends to be something he is not. Christ’s harshest words were reserved for hypocrites:
Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which appear beautifully outwardly, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and uncleanliness. Even so you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness (Matt 23:27-28).
Jesus was abrupt with hypocrites because the evil of hypocrisy. The scriptures repeatedly warn against hypocrisy (1 Tim 4:1-2). Warnings are issued for true Christians to avoid association with them (1 Cor 5:11). Jesus foretold the ultimate fate of hypocrites; they will be identified and separated from true Christians for judgment (Matt 7:21-23).
THERE ARE SOME HYPOCRITES IN THE CHURCH
The charge that the church is full of hypocrites is certainly just not true. To even say that the majority of Christians are hypocrites is distantly removed from reality. The reality is that only a small minority of Christians in the Church are hypocrites. This is something that the Church has never denied. There have always been and will always be some hypocrites in the Church.
Throughout history the Church has worked hard to identify and remove hypocrites from its ranks. Such has been the case in recent days with some prominent Christian leaders [book was written in the 90s]. But rather than congratulating the Church for its integrity, critics have focused n the negative.
NOT ALL CHRISTIANS ARE HYPOCRITES.
It is wrong to condemn all Christian as hypocrites. Christians do not claim to be perfect. If Christianity claimed to be an organization for perfect people, then all Christians would be hypocrites.
Though not all Christians are hypocrites, all Christians are sinners. In fact, admitting that one is a sinner is a prerequisite to belonging to the Church. Public acknowledgment of one’s sinful condition is a condition for membership. Though hypocrisy is a sin, being a sinner does not necessarily make someone guilty of hypocrisy. The terms sinner and hypocrite are not synonyms.
Many skeptics are actually guilty of imposing a double standard on Christians. They expect Christians to hold to standards they themselves could never dream of attain. Moreover, when Christians do try and live up to these standards, they are often accused of false piety and pretense.
Christians are not perfect; they are forgiven. They are seeking to become more Christ-like and Godly in their conduct. The vast majority of Christians fall into this category. They are sincerely striving to live the Christian life.
CHRIST IS NOT A HYPOCRITE
When someone charges that the Church is full of hypocrites, they are really implying that because Christians fall short, Christianity also falls short. The central truth of Christianity does not rest in the performance of its followers but in the merit of its founder. Christianity stands or falls with the person of Jesus Christ. Thus, the real question is not are there hypocrites in the church, but rather, was Christ a hypocrite?